In-stream flow reservations, a new anti-development tool
By Marleanna Hall
RDC recently submitted comments to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) opposing the approval of In-stream Flow Reservation (IFR) applications filed by the Chuitna Citizens Coalition.
In its letter, RDC wrote, “One of RDC’s primary concerns is that approval of the IFR applications would undermine existing regulatory processes and set a dangerous precedent for community and resource development projects across Alaska.”
IFRs have been “on the books” in Alaska for years, but questions concerning how IFRs should be addressed in the face of competing uses have not been resolved. RDC is further concerned anti-development groups will consider IFRs as a tool they can use to preemptively stop community and resource development projects beyond mining.
RDC contends investment in Alaska should not be jeopardized by pre-emptive actions to stop community and responsible resource development.
The Alaska Miners Association (AMA) strongly opposed the IFR applications, noting, “Without question, these applications were filed with the sole intention of stopping development of the proposed (Chuitna) coal mine.”
AMA Executive Director, Deantha Crockett, explained the State of Alaska has a lot to lose if these IFR applications are approved. “If investors cannot rely on a stringent, predictable permitting process, they will look to spend their dollars, taking jobs and other economic benefits, elsewhere,” she stated.
RDC also expressed concerns that the applications are flawed.
In detailed and technical comments, Joe Lucas, Vice President, PacRim Coal LP, urged DNR to reject the IFR applications. He wrote, “there are numerous technical deficiencies with the IFR applications.”
Lucas explains the methods used to determine the in-stream flows were flawed and inaccurate, further highlighting why the applications should be rejected.
A public meeting is expected before fall 2015. RDC will post more information on it at akrdc.org
Above, the Fort Knox mine near Fairbanks coexists with a thriving fishery that was restored as a result of the mine’s construction. IFRs could be used to block future development projects across Alaska’s resource industries.
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